A Port Metro Vancouver report has deemed a proposal to bring jet fuel up the Fraser River by tanker and then pipe it to YVR an acceptable risk.
Owned by a consortium of airlines that use YVR, the Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation is proposing to ship jet fuel to a new tank farm that would be built on the Richmond side of the south arm of the Fraser. An underground pipeline would then send the fuel to the airport.
The Port Metro Vancouver-commissioned report found the biggest risk of a fuel spill would come from a tanker striking something or running aground.
"Further, the assessment concluded that the great majority of the risks identified were acceptable against the defined risk acceptance criteria," the report stated. "The risk to the environment was found to be acceptable with all justified mitigations applied. None of the risks were assessed as unacceptable."
In an interview with the Optimist earlier this year, Yoss Leclerc, Port Metro Vancouver's harbour master and director of operations security, said the tanker risk analysis would look at many different issues of increasing liquid bulk shipments through the river.
"Even today, in the river we already have some aviation fuel and other petroleum products that move in barges, so it's not something new. With the VAFFC new terminal and vessels that aren't barges but tankers, we said we need to assess the risk and potential not only for VAFFC but any other potential project in the future," he said.
The B.C. Environmental Assessment Office accepted a formal application for an environmental assessment of the proposed Vancouver Airport Fuel Delivery Project last year.
In a letter responding to the port authority report, Vancouver Airport Pipeline Opposition for Richmond (VAPOR) spokespersons Carol Day and Otto Langer said the project review has been delayed because VAFFC submitted an irresponsible proposal that's been allowed due to a lack of proper environmental oversight and leadership by the federal and provincial environmental review processes.
They said the project should be permanently suspended because it exposes the river to great environmental and public safety risks that are jointly being reviewed by a confusing and non-accountable harmonized review, which is supported by piecemeal studies that do not examine cumula-tive environmental impacts.
A critique of the tanker study by VAPOR spokesperson and Delta resident James Ronback noted that if a major incident occurs at the tank farm, while a 275-metre long Panamax tanker is unloading at the marine terminal, a major jet fuel spill, fire or explosion will damage the Fraser River estuary for decades.
In response, Port Metro Vancouver noted the study used worldwide marine accident data to calculate the risk levels due to the limited number of accidents involving deep-sea vessels on the Fraser River.
It was deemed to be the best and most rigorous approach in order to ensure recommendations support a stringent safety regime.
Also opposed to the jet fuel delivery plan, Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said the port authority's involvement in the process is a conflict of interest.
He cited the potential leasing of 12 acres of PMV-owned land to the fuel corporation for use as an off-loading facility and storage farm.
Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington has also spoken in opposition, saying the environmental assessment application fails to quantify the level of risk compared to other fuel delivery options available.
Delta council, however, has been largely guarded in its position, wanting more information on the project. A Delta staff member is part of an EAO working group on the proposal, along with other municipal, provincial and federal government representatives.
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